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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Bearded Mudskipper

Fig 1

Fig 2   

Fig 3


Fig 4




Order : Perciformes
Species : Scartelaos histophorus
Maximum Length : 12-14 cm

Scartelaos histophorus (Bearded Mudskipper) is a tidal mudflat specialist. Smaller, younger individuals reside closer to shore, making use of temporary pools which only get covered at high tide. Larger ones live further out to sea, in the deepest part of the intertidal zone.

This mudskipper appears to be smooth-skinned, however it bears numerous, tiny scales that are embedded in the skin. It has an elongate body, a long pointed tail and a dorsal fin that is slender and pointed. Tiny barbels protrude from the underside of the head, like a short 'beard'.

It is greenish-grey on the dorsum and flanks, with numerous tiny, dark spots, and pale blue on the underside. The fins are mainly greyish. There are oblique, dark grey bars on the flanks.

This species is omnivorous; it feeds upon algae and invertebrates such as nematode worms, seed-shrimps and copepods, which are tiny, shrimp-like crustaceans.

Males try to attract females to their burrows by attempting to stand upright on their tails; in some areas this has earned them the name of 'Walking Goby'.

This distinctive mudskipper ranges from eastern parts of the Indian Ocean, through Southeast Asia to Japan, Australia and the western Pacific Ocean.

Fig 1 : Example from mudflats near the high-tide level in the Straits Of Malacca, at Muar, Peninsular Malaysia. Note the elongate body and tail.

Fig 2 : Side view showing the oblique, dark bars on the flanks. The tiny barbels beneath the chin can also be seen.

Fig 3 and 4 : Two views of extensive tidal mudflats south of the Muar River estuary where these images of Scartelaos histophorus were taken. Note the presence of temporary tide pools used by this species.

References : F2

Scartelaos histophorus on

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